Early 2015 Bessies Winners and Nominees Announced

July 16, 2015

Storyboard P. Courtesy Akintola Hanif, still from Black Magic

Last week, the New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards (known as the Bessies), announced the nominees for its prestigious 2015 Emerging Choreographer award. Troy Schumacher, Moriah Evans, Storyboard P and Yves Laris Cohen, a diverse group of young dancemakers, were each deservedly nominated for the title. Though the Bessies won’t be taking place until October 19th, the committee announced yesterday that Storyboard P, a hip hop, modern and jazz fusion artist and imaginative storyteller, has been given the award. A jury of three – Susan Marshall, Reggie Wilson and Shen Wei – chose Pavel Zuštiak to receive the Juried Bessie Award, which recognizes an innovative and exciting choreographer and provides them with touring and residency opportunities outside of New York.


(L to R): Matthew Rogers, Jaro Viňarský, and Pavel Zuštiak of Palissimo in Zuštiak’s Endangered Pieces. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu, Courtesy Dance Beat

Nominees for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Performer – the most populated Bessie categories – are listed below. As is tradition, productions and dancers with little stylistic overlap compete within the same category. How do we compare Soledad Barrio’s fierce and heartfelt flamenco stories with Michelle Dorrance’s inventive tap rhythms or Justin Peck’s playful pas de deux? Melissa Toogood’s performance with Juan Ogalla’s? Robert Fairchild with Lil Buck? Of course, it is an honor to be nominated (as they say) and The Bessies aren’t the be-all end-all on the best productions and performances of the year. Still, The Bessies never fail to both delight me as I am reminded of the incredible diversity that the New York City dance world offers, and confound me as I wonder if these categories, these divisions between winners and losers, are an appropriate way to recognize the gems of our dance community.


Find the full list of nominees here.


The 2015 Bessie Nominations

Outstanding Production:


Employee of the Year

FIAF/Crossing the Line

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca


The Joyce Theater

Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGLOVELY

The Blues Project

The Joyce Theater

Neil Greenberg


New York Live Arts

Roger Guenveur Smith

Rodney King


Xavier LeRoy


MoMA PS1 and Crossing the Line

Shwe Man Pwe

Music and Dance from Myanmar

Asia Society

David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group

Understand Everything Better

Abrons Arts Center co-presented by The Chocolate Factory

Justin Peck

Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes

New York City Ballet

Lincoln Center

Lemi Ponifasio/MAU

Birds with Skymirrors

Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Pam Tanowitz

Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy)

The Guggenheim’s Works & Process

Vuyani Dance Theatre Project


Fall for Dance, New York City Center

Outstanding Performer:

Alexandra Albrecht and Andrew Champlin

in Polly Pocket: Expansion Pack by Jillian Peña

Danspace Project

Michelle Boulé  

For her body of work with Miguel Gutierrez

Lawrence Cassella

Sustained Achievement − posthumous

Talya Epstein

in Star Crap Method by Larissa Velez-Jackson

The Chocolate Factory

Robert Fairchild

in An American in Paris

The Palace Theater

Ellen Fisher

For Sustained Achievement in Performance in the work of Meredith Monk

Lauren Grant

For her overall body of work with Mark Morris

Ryan Haskett, Daniel Price, and Lil Buck

Live Performance following NYC premiere of Pharaohs of Memphis

DAMN! Film Series

TheaterLab Annex

Juan Ogalla

in Antigona by Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca

The Joyce Theater

Amar Ramasar

New York City Ballet

Ryoji Sasamoto

in OQ by Kota Yamazaki

Japan Society

Melissa Toogood

For her body of work during the 2014−15 season in the work of Kimberly Bartosik, Merce Cunningham, Rashaun Mitchell, Stephen Petronio, Sally Silvers, Pam Tanowitz, among others.